Looking to get your music freak on? Summerfest is the grandpappy of outdoor summer music festivals, and knows how to bring it when it comes to high quality shows ranging from the little known to stadium-filling artists, for 11 straight days without a breather.
The festival began in the late 60s and has been a summer mainstay on the lakefront in Milwaukee – I spent many a day of my summer youth hanging out near the old main stage, waiting to grab a set for a free concert – Bryan Adams, INXS, The Go-Gos, The Beach Boys, Huey Lewis, oh yeah...It was the 80s and I loved it.
The grounds have evolved as the years have gone by from a dusty temporary feel to a park-like environment. It's clean, it's safe, and inviting. C'mon - take a free tennis lesson, hit some golf balls into the drink, check out Spike Lee's latest movie project, or take a ride on the super glider that traverses the park.
No need to pack a picnic – Summerfest will take excellent care of you. Hit the Miller Jazz Oasis for a dose of Saz's mozzarella sticks with marinara sauce. Grab a cup of frozen custard. And put drink a beer, dammit! You're in Milwaukee! Or - hit the Martini Lounge for a froo-frou drink. Or, both! There are food joints and booze everywhere. However, don't let that dissuade you from taking the kiddies - it's a very family-friendly environment. At least until about 6:30, when the crowd gets decidedly older and more interested in serious partying.
And let's not forget what this is all about – the music. The list of music acts on a daily basis is endless, and the vast majority is free after you've paid your Fest admission - usually about $15, although you can grab a day pass (12 - 4 p.m.) for $8. And there are always promotions and discounts available. You can catch a country act, alternative rock, folk, pop, swing, polka, jazz, blues....and the Marcus Amphitheater hosts the main stage act every night – this year, announced acts include The Fray, Chicago with Earth, Wind and Fire, Bon Jovi, No Doubt and Kenny Chesney. Depending on the act, lawn seats can be free, but most of these shows require a separate ticket - I like this in some ways, because I can't tell you how many hours I wasted sitting near a gate to get a good seat only to risk death by trampling, and not so much in other ways, as in it used to be !Free!
I can tell you this, though - if you go and leave grumpy, it's not because Summerfest doesn't have something to offer you. All kinds of awesome.